Air Force Academy Coach Continues Tweeting Salvation Message Despite Complaints
The Air Force Academy found no fault with one of its football coaches after the group Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) complained about his tweeting Bible verses from his personal Twitter account.
The issue arose after Steed Lobotzke, tight-end coach for the Air Force Academy Falcons, tweeted several Bible verses, like Romans 8:38, John 1:1 and John 3:3.
For I am sure that neither death nor life…will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38
— Steed Lobotzke (@CoachLobotzke) December 4, 2016
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 ESV)
— Steed Lobotzke (@CoachLobotzke) December 6, 2016
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3 ESV)
— Steed Lobotzke (@CoachLobotzke) December 9, 2016
MRFF complained about the tweets in a demand letter dated December 7, which called them “overt, ongoing, and illegal actions.” MRFF also called the tweets “Christian evangelizing via twitter, blatantly defying Air Force regulations,” reported The Colorado Springs Gazette.
In the letter, MRFF’s attorney complained that Lobotzke’s account could be seen on the Academy’s official website social media page, and that the first words appearing under Lobotzke’s Twitter handle, @CoachLobotzke, were “Follower of Christ.” Lobotzke’s full Twitter biography is, “Follower of Christ, family man, and football coach. Tweets are my own views.”
The demand letter claimed that the disclaimer that the tweets were Lobotzke’s own views was not enough, since it gave the “appearance of USAF endorsement” of his religious views.
At First, Victory for Coach Lobotzke
A few days later, the Air Force Academy responded by maintaining that there was nothing wrong with Lobotzke’s tweets, as they were posted to his personal account.
“Upon looking into this matter, we learned that all athletic coaches’ social media accounts are personal and not maintained by the Air Force Academy Athletic Department,” said Meade Warthen, Air Force Academy spokesperson in a statement to Military.com.
Lobotzke continued to post Bible verses to his Twitter account, also retweeting posts of encouragement from other Twitter users.
@CoachLobotzke be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." (part 2)
— dave (@RggedCross) December 12, 2016
— DH2 (@Dski50D) December 11, 2016
Air Force Academy Removes Social Media Page From Website
Upon the Air Force Academy’s announcement that there was nothing wrong with Lobotzke’s tweets, MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein responded that “This is complete and utter (expletive), there will be a lot more to come on this.”
More did come. MRFF sent a direct letter to the Air Force Academy on December 12, calling its decision regarding Lobotzke “ludicrous and unconstitutional.”
A press release from MRFF reported that the Academy website’s social media page linking to Lobotzke’s and others’ accounts was deleted some two hours later.
As the Air Force Academy has said nothing more regarding Lobotzke’s tweets, it would appear that it is continuing to support his right to tweet whatever he likes from his personal Twitter account, despite its decision to remove links to social media accounts from its own website.
Religious Liberty Attorney: Weinstein Distracts Military With Baseless Complaints
Despite its name touting religious freedom, MRFF is notorious for jumping on the slightest expression of faith by military members.
In the past, Weinstein has gone after the Air Force Academy over its football team’s praying together before games, and even for allowing cadets to display Bible verses in their own dorm, according to religious freedom non-profit law firm First Liberty Institute.
“It is sad that Weinstein continues to distract our military from its mission by resorting to this kind of religious hostility,” Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs at First Liberty Institute told The Stream. “Weinstein’s complaint clearly has no basis in law or fact.”
Lobotzke, for his part, doesn’t seem to be fazed. On December 11, the day the Air Force affirmed that he had done nothing wrong, he retweeted a post indicating that he was praying for Weinstein:
— usafa93 (@usafa1993) December 11, 2016
The coach is also continuing to tweet the Christian message of salvation. On Tuesday near the time of this report, Lobotzke tweeted John 3:14:
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wild,so must the Son of Man be lifted up,that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.John3:14
— Steed Lobotzke (@CoachLobotzke) December 13, 2016